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Last modified: 10 Feb 2021 10:40am

14-year-old Jack Clapham from Rolleston stands next to the Canterbury Youth Glide glider

The sky’s no limit for young people in Selwyn, thanks to support from the Selwyn Community Fund.

The fund, which started in 2018, supports community groups to run a project, event, or initiative for people in Selwyn.

Canterbury Glider Club Grants Coordinator Mike Marra says support from the Community Fund provided seed funding for a solo glider to use for teaching young people in the district and around Canterbury to fly.

It means, after several years without, the club has a dedicated single seater glider for youth to train in. The glider can also be used for school visits, giving Selwyn young people a hands-on introduction to gliding.

Rolleston teen Jack Clapham, 14, made his first solo flight in the glider at the annual Youth Glide Soaring Development camp at a youth glide camp in Omarama in December last year.

Solo flying is a life changing experience for young people like Jack, Mr Marra says.

“It gives the kids an unbelievable amount of confidence. I’ve watched kids come through the camp – they can be quite shy, and two weeks later they’re gliding by themselves. You see them the next year and they’re a totally different person. They’re not allowed to drive, but you’re giving them the responsibility to fly and it’s really inspiring what it does for their personal growth.”

While gliding can seem out of reach, the club and Youth Glide New Zealand provide subsidies for youth members to help make it attainable. The experience can lead to great opportunities, with pilots with gliding experience being highly sought after by airlines, he says.

Former youth glide member Nick Oakley, from Selwyn, has competed in gliding competitions internationally, while others have become professional pilots, including former All Black captain Richie McCaw.

Applications for funding from the Selwyn Community Fund are accepted all year round, but there are four dates in the year when applications are assessed and funds released. Applications for round two of the fund are open until 30 April. For criteria and application forms visit our community fund page or contact